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South Sudanese rebel leader Machar discusses with President Kiir the peace process

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Former southern rebel leader Riek Machar is due to make a rare visit to the capital Juba on Monday and meet President Salva Kiir, raising hopes of progress in the stalled peace process, officials said.

The two sides signed an agreement about a year ago to end a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced a third of the population and destroyed the economy.

But the implementation of the agreement, which called for a unity government, has been delayed because the government says it does not have enough money to finance the disarmament and integration of all armed factions.

“The meeting aims to discuss outstanding issues related to the implementation of the peace agreement with President Kiir and the other parties to the agreement,” said Machar Information Director Bok Booth Palwang.

“It will be a two-day visit,” he said.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war, but plunged into conflict at the end of 2013 after Kiir fired Machar from the post of vice president.

Forces loyal to both sides clashed in the capital at the time, and ethnically motivated fighting quickly spread across the country, shutting down oil fields, forcing millions to flee and killing hundreds of thousands.

The two sides signed a peace deal in September 2018 under pressure from international and regional powers. Machar, who lives in Khartoum, has only returned once to Juba since then, in October, to celebrate the peace deal.

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